California Central Coast Recipes

Basic Polenta

Basic Polenta is cornmeal that's been cooked with water or milk that's turned into a soft mush similar in texture to mashed potatoes. It can be served straight from the pot, or dressed-up with Parmesan cheese or butter. Polenta can also be used as a bed for a good Ragu or a dish such as Braised Lamb Shanks Osso Bucco style

After becoming a mush, it can also be put into a bread pan and chilled until solid and then cut into slices with a topping such as mushrooms as a fantastic appetizer or side dish. The ways to serve this grain staple are virtually unlimited!

If you are planning to set the Polenta into a loaf for Crostini, this recipe completely fills a standard bread loaf pan. ©2018, Basic Polenta
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
re-calculate ingredients for:


2 Cups cornmeal
1 teaspoons Salt
7 Cups Cold water

Optional for soft polenta
2 Tablespoons Unsalted butter

NOTE: The amount of water needed may vary with different brands of cornmeal.

Preparation Directions.

1 Pour the cornmeal into a heavy-bottomed large saucepan. Add the salt and then gradually add the cold water into the pan with the cornmeal while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Stir well and be sure to scrape cornmeal out of edges and bottom of pan.

2 Place the pan over medium-high heat and continue to stir constantly until the Polenta starts to thicken. (This usually takes about five minutes.)

3 When the Polenta is starting to thicken, reduce the heat to medium-low cover the pan and stir occasionally for twenty minutes.

4 When the Polenta starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, it is done. Give a few more good stirs and add any ingredients that you want or pour into a pan if you're going to solidify the polenta.

5 If you're going to serve the Polenta soft, add the butter and mix well before serving.

Wine and Food Pairing and Serving Suggestions.

Chose your wine according to the main topping. Polenta is so neutral that you can use any wine.

A tip from Sue!

Stoves and Ovens

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose your major appliances, I recommend a gas stove-top and an electric oven.

A gas stove-top is much more versatile than an electric one because it has infinite heat options.

An electric oven is better than gas because it has more even temperatures for baking and heating.